Driving in Calgary (and the province of Alberta) is regulated by the Alberta Government to ensure everyone’s safety. All drivers must have an adequate license, car insurance, and a registered vehicle (whether owned or rented).
You can drive in Alberta if you're registered as a full-time student and you have a valid license from your home country. This is especially relevant if you plan to rent a car.
You must have the following documents with you while driving:
- a valid driver’s license from your home country that's current and equivalent to a standard license in Alberta
- a copy of your valid study permit and an enrolment verification letter showing your current courses
- a translation of your license if it's not in English. This translation is sometimes called an “International Driver’s Permit,” and it goes with your license (it doesn't replace your license from your home country)
- official identification (such as your passport or an Alberta Identification Card)
You may have to complete a written exam and practical driving exam to qualify for an Alberta Driver's License. The requirements depend on:
- whether you have a valid (not expired) driver's license from another country
- how many years of driving experience you have
- if there's an agreement between Alberta and your home country/region
- which country issued your license
Consult the Government of Alberta’s temporary resident website for more details.
Wearing a seat belt is mandatory for the driver and passengers at all times. Passengers over age 18 are fined if they are not wearing a seat belt. The driver is fined if children are not wearing seat belts.
Speed limits are in kilometres per hour (km/h). Urban and populated areas range from 30-60 km/h; 100 km/h on city highways. Speed limits are usually posted. In Calgary, the speed limit is 40 km/h unless posted.
Hitchhiking isn't allowed on major highways, and it's not advised anywhere.
Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is illegal. Review the laws on the Government of Alberta website.
Driving in cold, snowy conditions may be new to you. It can be dangerous for new or inexperienced drivers. Please review these resources and consider taking a winter driving safety course:
You may rent a car using either your Alberta driver’s license or your license from your home country. Different car rental companies have their own policies regarding who may rent cars in the province. Generally the cheapest rates are usually offered to drivers 25 years of age and older. Younger drivers may be subject to additional fees. Most companies will require you to have a credit card in order to reserve and rent a car, as well as at least two pieces of government-issued photo identification in addition to your driver’s license.
Motor vehicle registration and driving regulations fall under the authority of the Alberta Government. Carefully review the information on their pages about legal processes and recommendations for consumers:
- Purchasing from private seller: https://www.alberta.ca/buying-vehicle-private-seller.aspx
- Purchasing from a dealership: https://www.alberta.ca/buying-vehicle-business.aspx
It's critical that you research your options, watch for fraudulent behaviour, and understand your rights and responsibilities as a consumer. Some helpful resources are:
- Alberta Motor Association (AMA):
- Types of searches on vehicle histories: https://ama.ab.ca/registries/auto/vehicle-history-search
- Types of vehicle inspections: https://ama.ab.ca/registries/auto/vehicle-inspection
- Alberta Motor Vehicle Industry Council:https://www.amvic.org/consumer/buying-a-vehicle/first-time-buyer/
- Better Business Bureau (BBB):
- Buying a used car: https://www.bbb.org/article/tips/14088-bbb-tip-buying-a-used-car
- Buying a new car: https://www.bbb.org/article/tips/14086-bbb-tip-buying-a-new-car
- Reading business profiles: bbb.org